The Dallas Dance Fest Is Back, Bigger than Ever

Categories: Dance

Serkan Zanagar

The Dallas DanceFest is back. After a 10-year hiatus, the festival that began with outdoor performances at the Annette Strauss Square returns with the same premise but a new venue, the Dallas City Performance Hall.

Its original debut in 1985 started off small, featuring only three companies: Dallas Black Dance Theatre, and the now defunct Dancers Unlimited and Ballet Dallas. These were the main players in the city back then, with Dancers Unlimited being the starting place for many modern dancers and choreographers still working and creating now, and Ballet Dallas was the training ground for many dancers still performing today.

The festival grew to include the similarly growing dance community, and involved regional and national companies who were members of the Dance Council of North Texas - each group subjected to the same application and jury process. The festival quickly became a Labor Day tradition, had a name change in the middle of its growth spurt (you might remember it as The Dallas Morning News Dance Festival), and operated for 20 years, before calling it quits in 2004.

But the community missed it. I know I did. I still have memories of waking up really early, having breakfast with my dad while he tried to wrap my waist-long hair into a tight bun, fidgeting the whole time with excitement because I just couldn't wait to go and dance with my friends. I remember having to be so careful to not get any grass stains on my pink tights and climbing up the back stairs onto the stage with a stomach full of butterflies because the audience was right there, so close I could touch them. Years later, I still live for the moment to interact with an audience, and I have the DanceFest experience to thank for that. Starting this fall, a new generation of audiences and dancers will also have that chance.

Produced once again by Gayle Halperin and the Dance Council of North Texas, the DanceFest will move indoors for the first time and into its new home, the Dallas City Performance Hall, August 29-31. Bringing back this festival is a smart move on behalf of the Dance Council. It calls attention to the growing dance community in Dallas--as new companies keep popping up and have tripled over the last five years--and the development of Dallas a city for dance and for the arts.

"It's a catalyst for bringing the dance community back together. Dance is strong here, and this is a great opportunity for an assemblage of dance companies and audiences to be together in one place. It brings what we have to offer as a city to the next level," says Charles Santos, Executive Director of TITAS and one of the jurors for the DanceFest.

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